This mushroom is not a native, but it grows in Australia. It is often found in parks and on waste ground and once established in a patch of ground, they will come up year after year. Often, they favour grassed areas where the grass clippings are allowed to rot down in situ. The one below is on the edge of the local football oval where it comes up each year with the onset of the first rains and continues to fruit through winter.
These mushrooms, in common with all the members of the genus, self-decompose into a black inky mess. The one above is beginning to go through that process and the one below is well into it.
For culinary purposes, the mushrooms need to be picked before the decomposition process has set in. Decomposing specimens need to be kept apart from fresh ones. They can be kept in iced water in the fridge for about half a day to avoid onset of the decomposition reaction.
For years I tried to incorporate these mushrooms into dishes without much success. They always turned into a horrible slimy mess. Then someone explained the trick. You need to slice them and then toss them in a pan for a while on low heat until they have lost a good proportion of their moisture. After that, they can be cooked as you would a normal mushroom. The de-watering step ensures that they remain firm during the cooking process.
It is also possible to dry these mushrooms if you happen to have a dryer, or if the weather is sunny. Drying must be done to the point of crispness. Once dried, they can be used to impart a distinctive flavour to dishes.
Some members of the genus contain a compound that reacts with alcohol in the same way the the drug antabuse does. This particular species, however, does not contain anything that interacts adversely with alcohol.
Footnote May 2011. I found a large patch of these growing nearby a few days ago and picked several kilograms of them. In order to handle them quickly, I decided to chop them and render them down to a soup in a stainless steel pot. It was an expensive pot with a copper insert in the base and I bought it for making jam. They rendered down nicely and I left the pot on the stove overnight, then decanted it into two smaller containers in the morning. The resultant mix had a pleasant, almost sweet smell. However, upon tasting a small sample of soup made from the mix, my senses were soon overcome by an unpleasant metallic taste. Research suggests that this is 1-octene-3-one. I can still taste it after 24 hours and two intervening meals. I have never tasted anything with such a persistant after taste. So that is something to be wary of with this mushroom. I have dried a smaller sample of them, and will investigate their taste with caution.